Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Marilynne Robinson--Housekeeping

I've had this book since at least last spring, I think, when the gender studies reading group at UT was reading it.  I didn't get around to reading it then (I mean, it was right around the time of comps and the French translation test, I believe--I did nothing but study, read for Wharton class, and teach my "Inquiry into the American South" class that semester), and wish I had.  This would be a wonderful book to talk about with other people.

The prose is just beautiful.  There's a dreaminess to the novel, as throughout boundaries are blurred: thinking/dreaming, sanity/insanity, inside/outside, wet/dry, self/other, self/mother/sister, memory/present....

Especially after reading Kristeva, who connects the horror we feel at the abject with the blurring of boundaries, especially those between inside and outside (to Kristeva, particularly the inside and outside of the body),  it was particularly interesting to experience these blurred boundaries from the perspective of a character who, as not only an orphan but also as one who has been cut off from civilization in general.  Despite the efforts of the school principal, the town's women, and the sheriff to bring at least Ruth into their fold, Ruth and Sylvie keep themselves separate from town and civilization.

The beauty of her prose and the meditations on memory, the past, and the ghosts who surround us make me interested to read her other novels.  This one was short-listed for the Pulitzer, and apparently another one of the other ones actually did win the Pulitzer.  In my spare time.

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